I will dare to begin this blog post with an assumptious thought… You clicking on my website, reading this blog post probably means you are interested in marketing, interested in working in marketing… Am I right? Am I wrong? (please let me know in the comment section below, I would love to know 🙂 ). Either way, you are most welcome here and thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and read this post, it means a lot 😉.
As I’ve written about it in About me page, I met with marketing in high school years and fell in love with it immediately. But, did I know anything about working in marketing at the time?… I had no clue. So, if you’re at that spot right now, you’re at the right place as I will break down the information for you about – working in marketing.
If you’re interested in a specific topic and don’t want to read everything I’ve written down, I have outlined the topics for you in the box below, so that you can get the information as quickly as possible.
Working in marketing - general
OK, so you are interested in working in marketing or you have already decided but you would like to get as much information about it as possible.
Marketing is a very dynamic, creative, strategic, business minded, profit driven department in a company or an organization. As the implementation of marketing has widely spread in the early 20th century due to mass production and market competition, the need to increase selling by using marketing techniques became an essential part of being competitive. So marketing went on to be an ever evolving industry. (But we will talk about the evolution of marketing in another blog post, so if you would like to be notified, please subscribe to my newsletter.)
Marketing sometimes is a game of opposites:
Working in marketing can be very fun and creative but also very serious and strategic.
It could be used for good or for bad.
Informative and transparent or deceiving.
Some people think marketers are liars, some believe them as marketers tell stories and are truthful.
Both is true, so it’s on us – marketers to choose wisely and we all know that eventually “what goes around, comes around”… Believer in karma? 😉
There are many areas within marketing where someone could work in:
- You could work at a management level and create marketing strategies that are in sync with companies business strategies / business model. You could be responsible for marketing plan and execution or you could be specialised and very best at a very niche area of marketing (like Social media content creator).
- You could work in an outbound marketing department or agency or inbound marketing department or agency.
- You could be working in house or freelance / agency.
- You could be working in different industries.
- You could work a normal 9 to 5 job (or 8h-16h) or you could set your own schedule and work around the clock.
I presume you’ve already got the point that marketing is a very diversified industry and you could really cater it to yourself. Your personality, interests etc.
Now lets dive deeper and begin with the first part – How to start.
How to start
At some point, when you decide you would like to work in a marketing industry, you ask yourself: “What now?” And you are a little confused on where to begin.
My best advice to you is – Google. As we already Google about everything ( from best rainy boots to who was the first president of Slovenia), we can start our marketing expedition there. Get as much information as possible. Hopefully someone searching “working in marketing” stumbled upon this post (One can dream right? 😄).
Read as many books on marketing as you can (stay tuned and subscribe to the newsletter, as I will write a blog post on my favourite marketing books), watch videos etc.
Familiarize yourself with marketing in general. Maybe you’ll get an idea of what area of marketing you’re the most drawn to.
So when you get an initial idea, what next?
Is getting a formal education in marketing or business a necessity? Some highly achieved people prove this not to be the case. Steve Jobs was a marketing genius, but had no formal education in it. So no, It’s not a necessity.
Elon Musk has in one of his interviews said that he doesn’t care what formal education someone has or even if he has one, what’s important is the knowledge and the passion. So while formal education for working in marketing isn’t obligatory, the knowledge is.
As formal education isn’t obligatory, it certainly is plus (combined with the knowledge and passion). Plus a lot of companies still give weight nowadays to formal education and don’t even give you a chance if you don’t cover their demands. What a loss for them that could be if you have amazing knowledge, experience and drive but no formal education.
If you would like to start working in marketing you could choose one of two paths or even both:
- FORMAL EDUCATION: Get formal education in marketing or business. Apply to university and gain knowledge and familiarise yourself with different fields within marketing. Gain knowledge through case studies. Start gaining experience throughout you student years and really focus on – what is your niche. What are you mostly interested in.
- DO IT YOURSELF: You should find a field in marketing you’re most interested in (more on that in a “How to start section”). Read a lot about it, watch videos. Apply to different seminars, webinars ( more probable these days, while we go through this Covid-19 crisis). Start a course or a lot of them. There is plenty of paid and even free good courses on the internet.
When you feel you gained some ( or a lot of theoretical) knowledge but still have no real, practical experience, a lot of us ask ourselves: “Do I have what it takes?”
Do I have what it takes?
While nobody gets born being best at whatever they eventually do, people do get born with certain predispositions and talents for different things. Bill Gates for example wasn’t born a programmer, but he was born with different characteristics that next to gaining skillset and his other unique predispositions eventually helped him to become who he is now. Michael Phelps wasn’t born the best swimmer, but he was born with genetic predispositions and body build that were the best for swimming. So combined with that and learning and gaining the right skillset and mindset, he became one of the best swimmers of all time.
Malcom Gladwell in his Book Outliers, writes about different criteria that influence the success of different people. Gladwell noted that “the biggest misconception about success is that we do it solely on our smarts, ambition, hustle and hard work. He believes that there are a lot more variables involved in an individual’s success than society cares to admit, and he wants people to “move away from the notion that everything that happens to a person is up to that person”. While I do agree with him to some extent, I still firmly believe that if a person is eager enough to succeed and is aware of the societal and environmental issues is then able to unwrite them, reset them and build his mindset and skillset around creation of his own success.
When asking yourself: "Do I have what it takes?", answer the following...
1. Not everybody can do everything. Find your talent.
If I wanted to be a performer, I couldn’t be, because I was not born with the best singing voice. And that is OK, I do have other talents and inclination. I know that I came to this world with a mission (as everybody does).
Are you ambitious? Business oriented? Are you creative? Are you an achiever? Do you when you stumble upon an AD ask yourself: “hmm.. what do they want to achieve?” “What is the story?” “Why did they use this graphics? ” “hmm… What software did they use? I wanna learn it” etc…
There are million other questions you could be asking if interested in marketing, but I hope you get the point. If you think you check most of the boxes, then marketing I believe is for you.
2. Am I willing to do what it takes?
Being good as something doesn’t come easy, it comes with ups and downs. It’s when the down comes (or as Seth Godin says “the Dip”), that matters. And believe me, sooner or later that time will come.
3. Do I have the right mindset?
Mindset is extremely important when trying to achieve something. An easy and quick read about getting the right mindset was also written on Entrepreneur website.
4. Can I create an opportunity for myself?
Marketing positions are not waiting around for you to be picked. You could be one of the lucky ones, that get the career they want “yesterday”, but most of us struggle at the beginning. I remember when I finished my studies and was all pumped up thinking I would get my dream job in marketing asap, how wrong I was. I got zero opportunities. Nobody wanted to hire me, as I had no experience… So I decided I’m gonna start doing marketing for my projects I enjoyed doing, I learned and evolved doing that and things eventually started to come together.
Every success story is different. So don’t compare yourself to other people and create your own path to success.
Getting first experiences
Getting first experiences can be quite challenging. My story was not an easy one and I believe most of them weren’t.
Fresh out of the university with an ego that could touch the sky, people get quite a reality check when they find out the fact that the work begins now. And no-one is there the help you (ok, excluding the privileged few that have it all served on a silver platter). You want to gain experiences in marketing? Well, work for it.
Below I'm listing two options for you to consider when getting first experiences:
(if you know for any other ones, please let me know in the comment section down below as I would love to know)
1. Work for free… Yes you heard it right. Even though you gained theoretical knowledge, you still have nothing to back it up with, so working for free could ultimately give you new practical knowledge and experiences.
There are different ways for you to gain experience through pro bono work. You could apply for internships at different companies that offer internship programmes. You could contact a company or a person ( entrepreneur) you would like to gain knowledge from, a mentor that could potentially give you an opportunity to work for them.
2. Start your own project. You could start your professional career with your own company or freelance. This is an amazing opportunity to learn through trial and error. One thing to keep in mind though (If you really want to succeed) is that you don’t deceive your audience and pretend you know it all when you don’t.
There are soo many different categories within marketing (strategic vs. tactical; outbound vs. inbound marketing etc.), so when you find a specialty, educate yourself non stop. There is always something new out there and if you’re not on the top of your game, you get lost behind.
A thing to consider though is; do you want to specialise in a specific niche, such as SEO? If you decide, “OK I’m gonna specialise in SEO” think longterm.
Do you want your career to evolve around SEO and being the best at it? Or do you see yourself eventually in a management position, such as CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of a company?
If yes, you should keep in mind that in order to do so, you need to dedicate your time to other areas of marketing as well and gain different experiences.
That is where working for a bigger company could bring the most benefits. But more on that in “Climbing the ladder” section.
In house marketer or Freelance / Agency?
1. In house marketer
In house marketer means that you work in a marketing department (if there is one ) of a company that provides products or services. Either B2C or B2B. The biggest benefit of this way of employment is that you know the company / the brand from inside out.
If there is no marketing department (like where I currently work), you need to be prepared to do everything yourself. You could and in some cases will outsource ( as there is only as much one human can do) different companies, agencies or freelancers, that are specialised in a specific area (like graphic design, website development etc.). Of course as every position, even this one has its pros and cons. You are the only one responsible, which can be a burden, but it also gives you the most diversified knowledge and experience. Also one thing to keep in mind is that very rarely will you get a position like that with no previous experiences. So you need to know what you’re doing and have experience.
If there is a marketing department and depending on how big the department is, you could start at the bottom and build your way up the ladder. You can learn from your peers and supervisors, get different experiences but it is also harder to be heard and recognised as you are mostly told what and how to do things by your supervisors. So you don’t get as much of creative freedom as you do with smaller companies. It is though (if you work for a well known company or a corporation) a very good reference for you portfolio and your career (Who wouldn’t want to list Apple or Nike as their employer on the resume? )
1. Freelance / Agency
If you decide to do Freelance, open your company or get a job at an Agency, the biggest difference between this and in-house marketer is that you can and will work with different clients and you won’t know them as thoroughly as an in-house marketer. That won’t be true for all the cases though. Maybe your freelance work will be based only one one or two clients and you will get to know their business model in depth but most of the time, that is not the case. The biggest advantage points with this type of work is that ( if you are a very creative person – as I like to think of myself too ☺️) you have a very dynamic job. Different clients, different industries, different brands, visuals, missions, storys etc.
You could very well combine the two as well ( like I do). You just need to find the right balance and it can all work together nicely.
Climbing the ladder
If you have big ambitions and would like to work as a Chief Marketing Officer, Marketing Executive, Marketing Consultant etc., you should have in mind that you shouldn’t specialise just in one niche/specific area, but to gain knowledge and experience from different aspects in marketing, invest your time in different marketing trends and always improve, learn.
You haven’t seen a marketing VP that only has experience in Social Media Marketing did you?
That’s because you can’t become one. You will have to know about little more that just Social Media management.
So lets presume that you would like to get a job at a big firm, you had just finished your education and are really ambitious and driven and willing to work hard.
This is how your career could work out - climbing the ladder - best case scenario:
- You will probably get in the firm by doing some pro bono work or internship.
- If you prove yourself at an internship, you will be offered an entry level job, like Social Media associate.
- After a year you get promoted to a Social Media Assistant
- after 6 months promotion to a Social Media junior manager
- after 1,5 year promotion to senior Social Media manager
- after 2 years to a digital marketing manager
- after 2 years to a inbound marketing manager
- after 2 years promoted to marketing director
- after 5 years promoted to Chief Marketing Officer.
So here you go. Your climbing the ladder example. Please note that this case is completely fictional, with predisposition that nothing goes wrong and you potentially loose your job. Different companies of different sizes can have different position titles. Also timelines could be completely different.
But I made it, so you could get an idea of how climbing the ladder could look.
This will wrap up this blog post. I hope it was somewhat educational and insightful. Working in marketing can be amazing but it is also a lot of hard work and a constant learning experience. I would love to hear from you and get your feedback and comment in the comment section below.
Till next time.